These two little words could help fend off depression

15 February 2017

A simple ‘thank you’ could help people overcome depression, a new study claims.

It’s thought the common courtesy can help conquer and ease the condition as it allows those suffering to experience a sense of gratitude for even the smallest of everyday good deeds.

Researchers from the universities of Houston, Texas and Pennsylvania State, plus the Michael E DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, surveyed 352 men and women aged between 18 and 58 on their personalities. Using a questionnaire, each participant noted the degree in which they feel grateful or depressed, as well as how they cope with stress and interacting with other people.

It was found that being thankful coincides with cognitive reappraisal, the capability to see the positives in a difficult situation. Furthermore, depression was found to be more common in people who struggle to share their true emotions; a condition known as ambivalent emotional expression (AEE).

In conclusion, experts believe a mere “thank you” is enough to encourage those who suffer from AEE to open up more to others, thus leading to a distraction from negative thoughts.

“Express(ing) gratitude for small acts of kindness could be impactful to their physical and mental health,” they reported. “Interventions may help to alleviate anxiety symptoms and perhaps foster feelings of closeness and social support for individuals who are high in AEE, as they often feel isolated. In responding appreciatively and with kindness, gratitude offers the ability to reappraise a situation in a more positive light, which may then be associated with lower depressive symptoms.”

Dr. Cynthia McVey, of Glasgow Caledonian University, supports these findings, noting that although those who suffer from depression will still require treatment, small gestures are “the key” to helping others feel content and happy in their lives. She also feels those who can’t afford to donate to charity can make a big difference to the world with courtesies like “thank you”.

The full study is published in journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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